Good for the Price
Announced worldwide in February, the 14.1-megapixel Coolpix L120 falls in Nikon’s ‘Life’-series of compact cameras, the main features of which are, fully automatic operation and the use of alkaline batteries.
The L120 provides 21x optical zoom, hybrid VR system, and high sensitivity up to ISO 6400.
DESIGN AND BUILD QUALITY
The Nikon Coolpix L120 body is largely made of engineering plastic. The lens protrudes from the body and uses a combination of the barrel and elements to zoom, so that it does not extend much on zooming. Apart from a zoom lever near the shutter release button, Nikon has incorporated an additional zoom lever on the lens barrel, which is very innovative. When the built-in flash is raised, the flash head resides at a high point so that it does not cause vignetting with the protruding lens. The camera has a stereo microphone near the built-in flash, and a monaural speaker in the top panel near the power button. A sturdy, rubberized grip is provided along with a thumb rest on the back panel to enhance the grip. The camera features a metal tripod mount.
The 14.1-megapixel Nikon Coolpix L120 uses a 1/2.3-inch type CCD (6.16 x 4.62 mm) for imaging. The camera features image sensor-shift vibration reduction (VR), which helps to minimize camera shake, especially while shooting with low shutter speeds. It uses a Nikkor 25–525mm equivalent f/3.1–5.8 lens, constructed with 12 elements in 9 groups. In normal mode, the lens focuses from approximately 50cm to infinity at the wide-angle end, and from approximately 1.5m to infinity at the telephoto end. In Macro mode, it focuses from 1cm to infinity at the mid-zoom position. The camera uses contrast-detect AF method and the AF area can be switched between center and face detection. Metering options are 256-segment Matrix, Center-weighted, and Spot. Shutter speeds range from 1sec to 1/4000 sec, but this is set automatically by the camera. Exposure compensation can be set from -2 to +2 EV in 1/3-EV steps. Sensitivity of the camera ranges from ISO 80 to 6400. In auto mode, it is limited to ISO 80 to 800, while in Sports continuous mode, the limit is from ISO 400 to 3200. White Balance can be set to Auto, Preset Manual, Daylight, Incandescent, Fluorescent, Cloudy, and Flash. The camera provides color options of Standard, Vivid, Black-and-white, Sepia, and Cyanotype. The built-in flash has a range of approximately 0.5 to 0.6m at the wide-angle end, and approximately 1.5 to 3.0m at the telephoto end on auto ISO setting. Flash mode is TTL auto with monitor preflashes. The self timer fires the camera with a delay of 10sec.
Shooting modes available are Easy auto, Auto, Scene, Smart portrait, and Sports continuous. In the Easy auto mode, the camera automatically selects the optimum Scene mode. In the Smart portrait mode, the camera activates the smile detection function to capture a smiling face automatically. The Scene mode provides 17 presets—portrait, landscape, night portrait, party/indoor, beach, snow, sunset, dusk/dawn, night landscape, close-up, food, museum, fireworks show, black and white copy, backlighting, panorama assist, and pet portrait. Still images are recorded in JPEG format, while movies are recorded in MOV format. Maximum still image size is 4320 x 3240 pixels, while movies can be recorded up to 1080i (HDMI) quality.
The Nikon Coolpix L120 uses 3-inch, approximately 921,000-dot wide viewing angle TFT LCD with anti-reflection coating for display. It has approximately 102 MB of internal memory, and uses an SD/SDHC/SDXC memory card for external storage. The camera has dimensions of approximately 109.9 x 76.5 x 78.4mm (W x H x D) and weighs roughly 431g. It is powered by four AA alkaline batteries.
The Nikon Coolpix L120 is lightweight and easy to use. The rubberized grip enhances the comfort in handling, and the deep groove provides a firm hold. The buttons are easily accessible and a one-touch movie recording button placed near the thumb rest makes video capture effortless. The LCD screen is bright and clear and the interface simple and easy to use.
The Nikon Coolpix L120 does not have any provision for changing the aperture and shutter speed manually, and hence certain tests like the one for lens flare and chromatic aberration could not be performed at the widest aperture. In the test for determining darkening of corners, the camera automatically selected the widest aperture as desired. It controlled darkening very well, limiting it to the extreme corners. Images were sharp edge-to-edge. In the test for flare, the camera automatically selected f/8, which is not conducive for observing flare. At this aperture, flare was observed along with slight purple fringing.
The Coolpix L120 exhibited excellent control of distortion, except for very slight pincushion at 94mm (522mm equivalent). AF struggled to lock on to the subject, especially at the telephoto end. It performed poorly under low light conditions. Under good lighting, the L120 performed well with macro subjects at mid zoom range.
The L120’s White Balance was impressive, with only acceptable color casts that could easily be corrected using Photoshop. The native print size of images were 10.8 x 14.4 inches at 300 ppi. ISO 3200 and 6400 were of low resolution (5.12 x 6.827 inches at 300 ppi), and extremely noisy. Hence these were not considered for noise evaluation. At 16.67 percent screen size, very slight noise was observed at ISO 1600. When observed at 25 percent screen size, ISO 800 appeared soft owing to noise reduction algorithm. At 33.33 percent screen size, slight noise was observed at ISO 400, but images were useable up to ISO 800. At 50 percent screen size, there was no observable change in noise characteristics. We would consider this good control of noise.
VALUE FOR MONEY
The Nikon Coolpix L120 retails at an MRP of Rs.15,450. At this price, the camera is good value for money, considering the 21x optical zoom and VR.
+ 21x optical zoom
+ Sensor-shift VR
+ Good control of distortion
+ Good noise control
– Erratic AF performance
Design and Build Quality 17/20
Key Features 16/20
Performance Autofocus 1/5
Noise control 4/5
Auto White Balance 4/5
Extra Features 3/5
Value for Money 8/10
Grand Total 79/100
If you are considering to buy a super zoom camera with point-and-shoot capability and if the lack of manual exposure control does not bother you, then the Nikon Coolpix L120 is a good buy. With a decent performance for the price, the camera is highly recommended.